TWIG 39: Facebook Über Alles

Facebook connect dominates the discussion in This Week in Google #39. Talking heads this week are Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, Gina Trapani, and Kevin Marks. See the show notes and Friendfeed links. Topics discussed include:

TWIT live stream | TWIT Channel on YouTube | TWIG 39 permalink

Facebook’s Suggested Pages List

via”Facebook Gets a Suggested Pages List” at ReadWriteWeb:

New Facebook users now see a list of some of the most often “liked” Pages on Facebook when they sign up for the popular social networking service. New users get the option to choose from about 100 popular Pages. These Pages mostly belong to celebrities, brands, news outlets and politicians. Eric Eldon first wrote about this new addition to Facebook’s sign-up process on Inside Facebook and notes that this list is “clearly designed to get users engaged immediately.” To some degree, this list is similar to Twitter’s now defunct Suggested Users List.

When we signed up for a new account to test this feature, Facebook recommended Peter Framption’s and Barack Obama’s Pages to us, as well as the Pages of Glenn Beck, Trisha Yearwood, Walmart, American Idol, Starbucks, Tide, Coca-Cola and about 100 more Facebook pages. The list we saw featured slightly more celebrities (ranging from Lady Gaga to Paula Deen) than brands, but it also included a number of media outlets, including CNN, the New York Times and Fox News.

It is not clear how Facebook organizes these Pages, but it looks like the company presents new users with a random mix of some of the most often “liked” pages.

Facebook’s Latest Privacy Hole: Event Lists

via “Facebook privacy hole ‘lets you see where strangers plan to go’” at

Facebook’s new system for connecting together the web seems to have a serious privacy hole, a web developer has discovered.

Some people report that they are able to see the public “events” that Facebook users have said they will attend – even if they person is not a “friend” on the social network.

The discovery was made by Ka-Ping Yee, a software engineer for the charitable arm of Google, who was trying out the search query system known as the “Graph API” released by Facebook last Friday. In some cases – though not all – it will let you see the public events that people have said they will attend, or have attended.

Yee demonstrated the flaw by showing how the API – which plugs directly into Facebook’s databases – can show you a list of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s planned public events. Read more

See Ka-Ping Yee’s website.

Is Social Media a Fad?

Is Social Media a Fad? Or the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?  Welcome to the Social Media Revolution by Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics. Read a rough transcript of  stats in the video with sources as of April 2009.

To the barricades with Cory Doctorow!

This could be the St. Crispin’s Day speech of the Digital Millennium. Hear him! Cory Doctorow via

Digital Economy Act: This means war

With the rushed passage into law of the Digital Economy Act this month, the fight over copyright enters a new phase. Previous to this, most copyfighters operated under the rubric that a negotiated peace was possible between the thrashing entertainment giants and civil society.

But now that the BPI and its mates have won themselves the finest law that money can buy – a law that establishes an unprecedented realm of web censorship in Britain, a law that provides for the disconnection of entire families from the net on the say-so of an entertainment giant, a law that shuts down free Wi-Fi hotspots and makes it harder than ever to conduct your normal business on the grounds that you might be damaging theirs – the game has changed.

I came to the copyfight from a pretty parochial place. As a working artist, I wanted a set of just copyright rules that provided a sound framework for my negotiations with big publishers, film studios, and similar institutions. I worried that the expansion of copyright – in duration and scope – would harm my ability to freely create. After all, creators are the most active re-users of copyright, each one of us a remix factory and a one-person archive of inspirational and influential materials. I also worried that giving the incumbent giants control over the new online distribution system would artificially extend their stranglehold over creators. This stranglehold means that practically every media giant offers the same awful terms to all of us, and no kinder competitor can get our works into the hands of our audiences.

I still worry about that stuff, of course. I co-founded a successful business – Boing Boing, the widely-read website – that benefits enormously from not having to pay fealty to a distributor in order to reach its readers (by contrast, the old print edition of Boing Boing folded when its main distributor went bankrupt while owing it a modest fortune and holding onto thousands of dollars’ worth of printed materials that we never got back). My novels find their way onto the bestseller list by being distributed for free from my website simultaneous with their mainstream bookstore sales through publishers like Macmillan and HarperCollins and Random House.

My whole life revolves around the digital economy: running entrepreneurial businesses that thrive on copying and that exploit the net’s powerful efficiencies to realise a better return on investment.

Parliament has just given two fingers to me (and every other small/medium digital enterprise) by agreeing to cripple Britain’s internet in order to give higher profits to the analogue economy represented by the labels and studios.

But today, my bank-balance is the least of my worries. The entertainment industry’s willingness to use parliament todi impose censorship and arbitrary punishment in the course of chasing a few extra quid is so depraved and terrible that it has me in fear for the very underpinnings of democracy and civil society.

In the US, the MPAA and RIAA (American equivalents of the MPA and the BPI) just submitted comments to the American Intellectual Property Czar, Victoria Espinel, laying out their proposal for IP enforcement. They want us all to install spyware on our computers that deletes material that it identifies as infringing. They want our networks censored by national firewalls (U2’s Bono also called for this in a New York Times editorial, averring that if the Chinese could control dissident information with censorware, our own governments could deploy similar technology to keep infringement at bay). They want border-searches of laptops, personal media players and thumb-drives.

They want poor countries bullied into diverting GDP from humanitarian causes to enforcing copyright. And they want their domestic copyright enforcement handled, free of charge, by the Department of Homeland Security.

Elements of this agenda are also on display (or rather, in hiding) in the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a treaty being drafted between a member’s club of rich nations. They’ve turned their back on the United Nations to negotiate in private, without having to contend with journalists or public interest groups. By their own admission, they intend to impose this treaty on poor countries as a condition of ongoing trade, and in the US, the Obama administration has announced its intention to pass ACTA without Congressional debate.

I’m not such a techno-triumphalist that I believe that the free and open internet will solve all our socio-economic problems. But I am enough of a techno-pessimist to believe that baking surveillance, control and censorship into the very fabric of our networks, devices and laws is the absolute road to dictatorial hell.

Chekhov wrote that a gun on the mantelpiece in act one is sure to go off by act three. The entertainment industry’s blinkered pursuit of its own narrow goals has the potential to redesign our technology to be the perfect tools and excuses for oppression.

April 19: “Shot Heard Round the World’ Ricochets Through History of Domestic Terror

On the Media produced two radio stories documenting the significance of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

Suspicious Minds: “In the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing 15 years ago, both media and law enforcement leaped to the conclusion that the attack must have come from Islamic terrorists. As a result, Oklahoma City’s Muslim population underwent a crisis. Why were they under suspicion? Had one of them done it? Reporter Scott Gurian looks at the ongoing impact of that misguided rush to judgment.”

Killing by the Numbers: “Since the “shot heard round the world” rang out on April 19th, 1775, the date of April 19th and/or April 20th have been imbued with significance. From Hitler’s birth to the killings at Waco, Columbine and Oklahoma City, each event echoes or evokes the anniversary of the last. Bob Garfield  and Brooke Gladstone weigh in on the numerology of terror.”

Follow the links for transcripts.

Library of Congress Acquires Twitter Archive

Via Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb:

The U.S. Library of Congress announced this morning via its official Twitter account that it will be acquiring the entire archive of Twitter messages back through March 2006. In addition to a massive printed collection, the Library already has an extensive collection of other digital assets. The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world.

The Library does extensive work with data format standards, the semantic Web and other platforms for outside analysis. The addition of Twitter into the organization’s offerings could foster an enormous amount of academic research. From a new kind of historical record to an unprecedented opportunity for discovering patterns of social interaction, this is big. Read more.

Marshall concludes:

It’s hard to imagine a more significant milepost in social media’s early march toward becoming an essential component of our social experience.

The Library of Congress used a tweet to announce its acquisition of the complete Twitter archive:

The Library of Congress used a tweet to announce its acquisition of  the complete Twitter  archive.

Blogging Without An Internet Connection in Cuba

via Spreading Digital Revolution In A Cuban Living Room : NPR:

Twice a week, Yoani Sanchez transforms the living room of her small Havana high-rise apartment into what she calls the Blogger Academy. About 30 students cram inside to learn how to use WordPress, Wikipedia and the other tools of a digital revolution that Cuba's government views warily.

The small group of young Cuban bloggers has drawn international attention to their campaign for greater freedom of expression and Internet access. The government treats them as a security threat, backed by anti-Castro forces abroad.

… Sanchez’s blog, Generation Y, is political, but not with the kind of overheated rhetoric that has characterized the Cuba debate for so long. It’s earned her several international awards, and though the blog is blocked on the island by the Cuban government, it’s accessible through third-party Web sites.

Because she isn’t allowed to have an Internet connection, Sanchez says, she writes her blog from home, then goes to tourist hotels and e-mails several postings at a time to friends abroad who run the blog for her. They send back reader comments, which often number in the thousands.

TWIG 35: Protect “Right To Bear Data”

In This Week in Google #35, Leo Laporte says the Constitution’s second amendment should be amended to protect the right to bear data, not arms, to defend us against tyranny. TWIG 35 opens with a wide-ranging discussion of Intranet freedom and censorship following Google’s decision to pull out of China.

Talking heads this week are Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, Gina Trapani, and Kevin Marks. See the show notes and Friendfeed links. Topics discussed include:

TWIT live stream | TWIT Channel on YouTube | TWIG 35 permalink

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